The most important thing here is definitely the new alternate-champion-progress lobby option, in response to "Revising Champions" winning the #2 spot in the Big Items For 8.0 poll.
Basically if you want to play with Champions but don't want to mess with nebulae (and their scenarios) just turn this on and your champions will gain their XP alongside your normal Knowledge gathering, and will gain new unlocks when you capture or hack Advanced Research Stations, Advanced Factories, etc.
I'm sure this needs further balancing and polish and perhaps isn't even the right tree to bark up, but recent discussion indicated it was worth a try. And even if this option is worked out perfectly there's probably other revisions needed for champions. Anyway, more feedback is very welcome :)
Other high points from the release:
- The AI (on Diff 7+) now has "overrun" logic to recognize when its normal-threat forces are way more than needed at a specific planet (even when there's still some human presence). It then leaves a goodly chunk to mop up and sends the excess after another target.
- Most of the Golems have been buffed to better fit their balance targets, so they should be more interesting to play with. Unless it's the AI with the golems. Then it's more interesting to play with.
- The Spirecraft Siege Tower and Spirecraft Ion Blaster have been reimagined as much more combat-effective ships.
- Fixed a couple of bugs that were causing Desyncs in multiplayer. Always a relief to nail some of those.
- The AI's Implosion Guardians (including the Dires) have been nerfed. And there was much rejoicing.
There's also quite a few other bugfixes and balance changes.
Update: 7.022 hotfix for a memory leak (that could cause out-of-mem situations) and a rare null-pointer exception (which isn't at all new, just now reported where I saw it).
This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.